Wednesday, May 23, 2012

An Angry Birds Birthday Party

Angry Birds... This is what my daughter said when asked what the theme of her birthday cake would be this year. This from my very girly daughter who spends her free time dancing ballet and playing piano and frolicking around like the sweet 8-year old girl that she is. Angry Birds. Maybe it was in part because we recently adopted a bird named Phoenix of whom my daughter cannot get enough of. Or maybe it's because Angry Birds has quite an impact on most kids, these days. Not only kids, I might add. I found myself hooked on the game for about a month not so long ago and if I remember correctly, so did my hubs. In the times of children getting Ipods and tablets as holiday and birthday gifts, this game is near the top of my kids' list of things to play in a day. And if you go into almost any store, you'll likely see Angry Birds paraphanalia displayed in some form or fashion.
So it's no wonder my daughter chose Angry Birds as the theme of her birthday cake this year as she turns 8. She gave me a scene to base the cake on and I was excited to take on this challenge and hopefully have a successful Angry Birds cake under my belt. The interior of the cake was a white cake with strawberry filling and a light chocolate American buttercream. Working with fondant is always an enjoyable and creative experience for me and this time, I used crispy rice treats for the textural effect of the boulders and cement blocks.

This cake was loads of fun to make and my daughter loved the finished product. Her birthday party was a success with all the kids enjoying the Angry Birds theme. After donning some Angry Bird tatoos, we faux-tie-dyed tee shirts, hats, and scarves and the weather was lovely.

Earlier this week before the harriedness of birthday party prep began, I looked in my fridge and found about 20 limes. Turns out I had purchased limes on sale at the fruit market two weeks in a row and hadn't realized it. Coincidentally (or not) I had 11 egg yolks sitting in my fridge from the white vanilla cake I had made for my daughter's birthday cake that I needed to do something with. Citrus and yolks.... There could be only one path out of this excessive ingredient situation - lime curd.

Curd can be made one of two ways - using cornstarch as a thickener or using yolks. The cornstarch method produces a curd that is slightly gritty on the tongue and not as smooth and rich as the yolk method. It's a quick fix in times of necessity, but the yolk method creates a far higher quality result.
Citrus curd can be made using any citrus fruit - oranges, limes, lemons, grapefruit. I would love to make an orange curd as oranges are my favorite citrus flavor. But this time, I needed to use up all these limes. This lime curd is has such a smooth mouthfeel. There is quite a tartness from the limes but it is so pleasantly complimentary to the creamy sweetness and richness from the added sugar, yolks and butter. This curd is wonderful on toast, bagels, in a tart, as a filling in cakes or cupcakes, in between sandwich cookies or just by the spoonful. I especially love mine on plain graham crackers. Yum! I urge you to try this recipe. It's a keeper.

Lime Curd
(*This recipe can be successfully halved or doubled; to halve the recipe, use 5 egg yolks)

1 cup fresh lime juice (about 4-5 limes) (you can also use any other citrus fruit or combination thereof)
zest of 2 limes
11 egg yolks
1 cup sugar (for sweeter citrus such as orange, reduce the sugar to 1/2 cup)
12 T butter, unsalted and cut into 12 slices

In a saucepan, combine lime juice, zest, sugar and 6 T of butter. Whisking constantly over medium-low heat, this mixture will start to thicken. Once you can leave a clean trail through the curd on the back of a wooden spoon with your finger, the curd is ready to take off the stove. At this point, add in the remaining butter and whisk until the butter is completely melted and well incorporated. Run the curd through a sieve to strain any unwanted egg pieces and all of the zest for a smooth product. Let the curd cool. It will continue to thicken. Transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks, if it lasts that long.

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